Those Invisible Black Confedrates Appear Again in Virginia Textbook

20 Oct

One more time… There were NO black confederate soldiers in Virginia! And I highly doubt there were any anywhere else other than the documented case of the New Orleans Regiment, which promptly defected and became the 1st US Colored, and two slave regiments assembled in South Carolina in the last days of the war.

What there were were slaves, who had been lent to the confederate Army in exchange for their Masters not having to serve. These slaves dug fortifications, latrines, and cooked for white confederate troops. They did not carry guns, they did not fight… AND THEY DIED a lot, from diseases infecting the camps. During the siege of Petersberg and Richmond near the end of the war, free blacks were impressed into service, often at gunpoint to dig fortifications.

The question here is why is Virginia using a “history textbook” written by someone who isn’t even a historian? Who is stupid enough (or racist enough) to quote a widely debunked fairy tale used to bolster the Southern Myth…

What it looks like here is that neo-confederate racist Republicans who hold the Virginia Governor’s office are screwing up Virginia’s textbooks the same way the clowns did to Texas’ there.

Black confederates in Civil War? Sure there were...

Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.

The passage appears in “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” which was distributed in the state’s public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Scholars are nearly unanimous in calling these accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history. Virginia education officials, after being told by The Washington Post of the issues related to the textbook, said that the vetting of the book was flawed and that they will contact school districts across the state to caution them against teaching the passage.

“Just because a book is approved doesn’t mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence,” said spokesman Charles Pyle. He also called the book’s assertion about black Confederate soldiers “outside mainstream Civil War scholarship.”

Masoff defended her work. “As controversial as it is, I stand by what I write,” she said. “I am a fairly respected writer.”

The issues first came to light after College of William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter’s copy of “Our Virginia” and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers.

“It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” Sheriff said. “It concerns me not just as a professional historian but as a parent.”

Virginia, which is preparing to mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, has long struggled to appropriately commemorate its Confederate past. The debate was reinvigorated this spring, when Gov. Robert F. Mc­Don­nell (R) introduced “Confederate History Month” in Virginia without mentioning slavery’s role in the Civil War. He later apologized.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group of male descendants of Confederate soldiers based in Columbia, Tenn., has long maintained that substantial numbers of black soldiers fought for the South The group’s historian-in-chief, Charles Kelly Barrow, has written the book “Black Confederates.”

The Sons of Confederate Veterans also disputes the widely accepted conclusion that the struggle over slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. Instead, the group says, the war was fought “to preserve their homes and livelihood,” according to John Sawyer, chief of staff of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Army of Northern Virginia. He said the group was pleased that a state textbook accepted some of its views.

The state’s curriculum requires textbook publishers and educators to explore the role African Americans played in the Confederacy, including their work on plantations and on the sidelines of battle. Those standards have evolved in recent years to make lessons on the Civil War more inclusive in a state that is growing increasingly diverse.

When Masoff began work on the textbook, she said she consulted a variety of sources — history books, experts and the Internet. But when it came to one of the Civil War’s most controversial themes — the role of African Americans in the Confederacy — she relied primarily on an Internet search.


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6 responses to “Those Invisible Black Confedrates Appear Again in Virginia Textbook

  1. makheru bradley

    October 20, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    According to Hine, Hine, and Harrold in “African American History,” a textbook widely used in African American Studies, a few African Americans did serve in the Confederate Army in Virginia.

    “My own opinion is that we should employ them without delay.” Gen. Robert E. Lee, February 1865

    [Less than a month later the Confederate Congress voted to enlist 300,000 Black men. They would receive the same pay, equipment, and supplies as white soldiers. But those who were slaves would not be freed unless their owner consented and the state where they served agreed to emancipate them.

    Before the war ended in April, authorities in Virginia managed to recruit some Black men and send a few into combat. By the end of March, one company of thirty-five Black men–twelve free Black men and twenty-three slaves–was organized. On April 4, 1865, Union troops attacked Confederate supply wagons that Black troops were guarding in Amelia County. Less than a week later, Lee surrendered to Grant…] Hine, Hine and Harrold


    • btx3

      October 21, 2010 at 12:10 AM

      Have heard that story for a lot of years, Makheru. It consists of one single account by a confederate done after the war.

      There were also several accounts of black soldiers when confederates marched on Washington, DC. At a battle fought outside the little town of Vienna, Virginia, there were some reports of black confederates…

      They turned out to be white confederates covered with the residue of the black powder rifles used at the time.

      Yes, there were lack teamsters utilized by the confederates, particularly around Petersburg and Richmond due to the large resident community of free black craftsmen, which even until the Civil War was probably the largest community of free black people in the United States. I ran across a compilation of stories of the remaining free black families who were forced into what became modern day Hopewell, Virginia – just outside of Petersburg. It was a virtual Warsaw Ghetto. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

      The other point is, the pernicious and vicious “Black Codes” implemented in Virginia had both depleted the number of free blacks remaining by 1865, and left them little reason to fight for the South.

      So no – given guns… They would have more than likely happily killed rebs.


  2. nanakwame

    October 21, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    imho – all social studies should end in grammar school.
    Thinking and problem solving should be foci. Literature based on historical facts should be taught. I really do not know what this is all supposed to prove in the first place. There are persons who always sympathize with their oppressor, as stories now of how German women played a part in the Holocaust. This is why BT, we are not fighting this the best way, education needs to changed period. Why these fools can raise a variance that has so little to do with the essence of this war.


    • btx3

      October 21, 2010 at 9:11 AM

      The context of the war has changed, Nana. What isn’t happening is that we aren’t using all the weapons in the toolbox…



  3. Miss Liberty

    October 23, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    Love your blog, btx3


  4. Hue Mann

    March 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Until we record our history accurately, while it’s occurring, do not expect following generations to understand this experience. This is a facet of the problem faced when examining history. So far it seems those in following generations are more interested in weaving a fabric by picking and choosing historical events to frame the position they care to hold.



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